On July 14, 2023, Children’s Hospital of Colorado (CHCO), called Caden Kent’s family and told them that CHCO would not move forward with scheduling his previously authorized gender-affirming surgery. Caden Kent is a pseudonym, to protect his privacy. Caden is 18 years old, transgender, and is diagnosed with gender dysphoria. He and his family were devastated, knowing that CHCO’s abrupt termination of care would mean many more months without access to surgical care.

CHCO had decided, just the day before stopping Caden’s care, that as a matter of policy, CHCO would no longer provide medically necessary, gender-affirming care to patients over 18. CHCO would continue providing the same surgeries to cisgender patients over 18 with diagnoses other than gender dysphoria. All gender-affirming surgeries, even those scheduled within days of the change, were cancelled. Before its sudden change in policy, CHCO was one of the few medical facilities in Colorado where transgender patients unable to pay out-of-pocket could access treatment with their insurance. CHCO never provided gender-affirming surgeries to minors.

Being transgender is not a medical condition or disorder. However, gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition, characterized by clinically significant distress associated with incongruence between a person’s gender identity and assigned sex at birth. Not all transgender people diagnosed with gender dysphoria require surgical care, but for many, gender-affirming surgical care is medically necessary and can be life-saving.

With the support of his family, Caden began receiving care at CHCO for his gender dysphoria several years ago. His life improved tremendously with treatment. Later, he began consulting with his CHCO care team about seeking gender-affirming surgery once he turned 18. After more than eight months of consultation and individualized assessment, CHCO determined Caden was an appropriate candidate for surgery and such treatment was medically necessary. Caden was on track to be scheduled for the procedure, but on the same day he submitted an insurance authorization letter — the final step before his surgery date could be set — a CHCO physician’s assistant notified him that under new CHCO policy, effective immediately, his procedure could not move forward.   

On February 14, 2024, Caden sued, claiming that the hospital violated state anti-discrimination laws when it stopped providing medically necessary surgeries to transgender patients with gender dysphoria over the age of 18 while offering the same medically necessary surgeries to cisgender patients with other diagnoses. The complaint asserts that CHCO violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by denying Caden full and equal access to care on the basis of sex, gender identity, gender expression, and disability. CHCO filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit and ACLU-CO responded to this Motion on May 10, 2024. 


ACLU Sues Children's Hospital Colorado Over Stoppage of Gender-Affirming Surgery for Patients Over Age 18


"ACLU sues Children's Hospital on behalf of 18-year-old seeking gender-affirming surgery", CPR News, February 14, 2024

"ACLU sues Children's Hospital on behalf of 18-year-old seeking gender-affirming surgery", CPR News, February 14, 2024

"Transgender patient whose gender-affirming surgery was canceled is suing Children's Hospital Colorado", Colorado Sun, February 14, 2024

"Children's Hospital Colorado sued over gender-affirming surgeries", 9 News, February 14, 2024

"ACLU sues Children's Hospital Colorado for halting adult gender-affirming surgeries", Denver Post, February 14, 2024

"ACLU sues Children's Hospital Colorado for stopping gender-affirming surgeries for adults", Denver 7, February 15, 2024


Timothy R. Macdonald, Sara R. Neel, Emma Mclean-Riggs, and Anna I. Kurtz

Date filed

February 14, 2024


Denver District Court



Case number